Space Sail Experiment Expedites Disposal of Satellite

ADEO will be deployed from the ION satellite launcher during the December 2022 test.
gif: High Performance Space Structure Systems/Gizmodo

There’s a lot of junk orbiting our planet, from tiny specks of paint to defective rocket stages. While solutions were being developed to remove debris already in place, a private space company in Germany has successfully tested a method to deorbit satellites at the end of their lifespan to prevent them from becoming space debris in the first place.

The Drag Augmentation Deorbiting System (ADEO) brake sail was developed by High Performance Space Structure Systems to deorbit satellites at the end of their mission. A space-based test titled “Show Me Your Wings” in December 2022 deployed ADEO from one ION satellite carrier built by private space company D-Orbit. ADEO successfully knocked the satellite carrier out of orbit and sent it into the atmosphere, where it burned up.

“show me your wings” marks the last inflight qualification test of ADEO as a proof-of-concept after testing began in 2018. The European Space Agency hopes ADEO will help prevent future decommissioned satellites from entering orbit space debristhat may pose a threat to space operations.

“We want to establish a zero-waste policy, which means if you put a spacecraft into orbit, you have to remove it,” said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher in a press release.

ADEO – deorbit sailing on angel wings

ADEO is a 38 square foot (3.5-square meter) sail made of an aluminum-coated polyamide membrane attached to four carbon-fibre reinforced arms arranged in an X shape. The sails increases Surface drag when deployed from a satellite, resulting in faster decay Orbit. ADEO can also be scaled up or down depending on the size of the connected satellite. The largest version could reach 100 square meters (1,076 sq ft), while the smallest sail is 3.5 square meters (37 sq ft).

NASA appreciates that 27,000 pieces of space junk orbit the earth, most of which are bigger than a softball and traveling at speeds of around 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour). While ESA has previously announced plans to remove pre-existing ones space debris in the form of decommissioned satellitesADEO is an attempt to prevent satellites from becoming debris in the first place.

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